There is a burden that is heavy on God’s heart for this church, as well as all churches on earth, and that burden is that most professed Christians are lacking the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and also that we may sense our need for the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
It is by the working of the Holy Spirit that Christ is enthroned in the life of the believer. It is the Holy Spirit that makes a person a Christian, and it is He that cleanses the mind and regenerates the believer. What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and how is it important in the lives of the members of the church?
What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? In Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians, Galatians chapter 5:22, 23, Paul states: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The word “fruit” is singular. There is but one fruit of the Holy Spirit, and that one fruit includes all of the Christians graces.
In Manuscript 16, 1892, Ellen White states: “The attribute that Christ appreciates most in man is charity (love) out of a pure heart. This is the fruit borne upon the Christian tree.” Ellen G. White Comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1091. Also in The Review and Herald, June 5, 1888, she states: “Love is a plant of heavenly origin, and if we would have it flourish in our hearts, we must cultivate it daily. Mildness, gentleness, long-suffering, not being easily provoked, bearing all things, enduring all things—these are the fruits upon the precious tree of love.” Also in Ephesians 5:9, Paul again states: “For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” In James 3:18, the apostle shows that, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
“Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God; and ‘God is love.’ It is conformity to the law of God; for ‘all thy commandments are righteousness;’ and ‘love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.” Sons and Daughters of God, 304.
The wise man Solomon mentions that “the wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness [shall be] a sure reward. As righteousness [tendeth] to life: so he that pursueth evil [pursueth it] to his own death.” [Proverbs 11:18-19.] It is on this basis that the minor prophet Hosea records in chapter 10:12, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
So the result of possessing or bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit which Paul says is love will be made manifest in all acts of righteousness, goodness and truth. But why is this so? In the book Sons and Daughters of God, 80, we are instructed, “A thoroughgoing Christian draws his motives of action from his deep heart-love for his Master. Up through the roots of his affection for Christ springs an unselfish interest in his brethren.”
In the book The Acts of the Apostles, 551, 552, we are also told, “John strove to lead the believers to understand the exalted privileges that would come to them through the exercise of the spirit of love. This redeeming power, filling the heart, would control every other motive and raise its possessors above the corrupting influences of the world. And as this love was allowed full sway and became the motive power in the life, their trust and confidence in God and His dealing with them would be complete. They could then come to Him in full confidence of faith, knowing that they would receive from Him everything needful for their present and eternal good.”
Love becomes the motive power that prompts all actions, and as a consequence righteousness, goodness, and truth are the results.
“The gift of righteousness is communicated to men through the agency of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). Herein lies the difference between the ineffective righteousness man seeks through works and the effective righteousness that comes through faith. In the former the Spirit has no part, for the effort is purely human and thus independent of divine grace.” Ellen G. White Comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 977.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit being “Love”, that which naturally develops in the life when the Spirit has control. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not the natural product of human nature, but of a power wholly outside of man. In Testimonies, vol. 2, 135, we have recorded, “Love is of God. The unconverted heart cannot originate nor produce this plant of heavenly growth, which lives and flourishes only where Christ reigns.”
Selected Messages, Book 2, 187, has recorded, “Love is the fruit that is borne on the Christian tree, the fruit that is as the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations.”
People are referred to as trees in Scripture; Scriptural references: Judges 9:8; Judges 11:16, 17, 19; Judges 17:8; Ezekiel 17:21–24; Daniel 4; Zachariah 11:2; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:15–22; Matthew 12:33–35; Romans 11:17–24; Songs of Solomon 2:3; Isaiah 61:3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 5:1–7 “Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts [is] the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.”
Matthew 15:13: “But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.”
Love, the fruit of the Spirit, is borne on the Christian tree. In Scripture, human beings are referred to as trees—either a corrupt tree or a good/righteous tree. When the life is wholly surrendered to Christ, the Holy Spirit causes the fruit of love to grow on the human tree. This fruit, in turn, when present in the life of the professed Christian brings forth or bears fruits such as joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. But this is all the product of an indwelling Christ as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
So the Holy Spirit quickens the sinner; he/she responds positively to the Holy Spirit, at which time the Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner and brings Christ into the life of the born again person. Christ infuses His life into the human tree; the converted person bears the fruit of love and this fruit in turn produces the fruits of joy, peace long-suffering, etc.—the graces of the Holy Spirit. So we all can see why so many professed Christians lack the fruit of the Holy Spirit—Love.
How does man develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Paul states in Ephesians 5:9, “(For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth.)” “As you receive the Spirit of Christ, … you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely. …” Sons and Daughters of God, 32.
In John 15:5, Jesus declared to his disciples, as well as us today: “I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
In Testimonies, vol. 2, 48, God’s servant states: “It is only by personal union with Christ, by communion with Him daily, hourly, that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit.” The Faith I Live By, 135.
In The Review and Herald, January 24, 1893, we see this profound statement, “We may leave off many bad habits, and yet not be truly sanctified, because we do not have a connection with God. We must unite with Christ.”
The Desire of Ages, 173, tells us: “When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven.” Therefore, it is by a total surrendering of ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allowing Christ to abide in us and we in Him that this heavenly fruit will take possession of us!
“Christ Himself calls our attention to the growth of the vegetable world as an illustration of the agency of His Spirit in sustaining spiritual life. The sap of the vine, ascending from the root, is diffused to the branches, sustaining growth and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Saviour, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and brings even the thoughts into obedience to the will of God, enabling the receiver to bear the precious fruit of holy deeds.” The Act of the Apostles, 284.
Now all of this is made possible by putting self aside fully and completely. In Gospel Workers, 287, this thought is substantiated: “When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is filled by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith that purifies the soul from defilement. He is conformed to the Spirit, and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self. Christ is all and in all. He receives with meekness the truth that is constantly being unfolded, and gives the Lord all the glory, saying: ‘God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.’ ‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.’
“The Spirit that reveals, also works in him the fruits of righteousness. Christ is in him, ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ [John 4:14.] He is a branch of the True Vine, and bears rich clusters of fruit to the glory of God. What is the character of the fruit borne?—The fruit of the Spirit is ‘love,’ not hatred; ‘joy,’ not discontent and mourning; ‘peace,’ not irritation, anxiety, and manufactured trials. It is ‘long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ ”
Also we read in the book Steps to Christ, 58, “Those who become new creatures in Christ Jesus will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ (Galatians 5:22, 23). They will no longer fashion themselves according to the former lusts, but by the faith of the Son of God they will follow in His steps, reflect His character, and purify themselves even as He is pure. The things they once hated they now love, and the things they once loved they hate. The proud and self-assertive become meek and lowly in heart. The vain and supercilious become serious and unobtrusive. The drunken become sober, and the profligate pure. The vain customs and fashions of the world are laid aside. Christians will seek not the ‘outward adorning,’ but ‘the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.’ (I Peter 3:3, 4.)”
In his first epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul sets forth the importance of that love which should be cherished by the followers of Christ. We read in I Corinthians 13:1, 2: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
“No matter how high his profession, he whose heart is not imbued with love for God and for his fellow men is not a disciple of Christ. Though he should possess great faith, and even have power to work miracles, yet without love his faith would be worthless. He might display great liberality, but should he from some other motive than genuine love bestow all his goods to feed the poor, the act would not commend him to the favor of God. In his zeal he might even meet a martyr’s death, yet if destitute of the gold of love he would be regarded by God as a deluded enthusiast or an ambitious hypocrite.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 168.
The apostle proceeds to specify the fruits of love: ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not.’ The divine love ruling in the heart exterminates pride and selfishness. ‘Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.’ [I Corinthians 13:4.] The purest joy springs from the deepest humiliation. The strongest and noblest characters rest upon the foundation of patience and love, and trusting submission to the will of God.
“Charity ‘doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.’ Verse 5. The heart in which love rules will not be filled with passion or revenge, by injuries which pride and self-love would deem unbearable. Love is unsuspecting, ever placing the most favorable construction upon the motives and acts of others. Love will never needlessly expose the faults of others. It does not listen eagerly to unfavorable reports, but rather seeks to bring to mind some good qualities of the one defamed.
“Love ‘rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.’ Verse 6. He whose heart is imbued with love is filled with sorrow at the errors and weaknesses of others; but when truth triumphs, when the cloud that darkened the fair fame of another is removed, or when sins are confessed and wrongs corrected, he rejoices.
“ ‘Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.’ Verse 7. Love not only bears with others’ faults, but cheerfully submits to whatever suffering or inconvenience such forbearance makes necessary. This love ‘never faileth.’ Verse 8. It can never lose its value; it is the attribute of heaven. As a precious treasure it will be carried by its possessor through the portals of the city of God.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. Discord and strife are the work of Satan and the fruit of sin. If we would as a people enjoy peace and love, we must put away our sins; we must come into harmony with God, and we shall be in harmony with one another. Let each ask himself: Do I possess the grace of love? Have I learned to suffer long and to be kind? Talents, learning, and eloquence, without this heavenly attribute, will be as meaningless as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Alas that this precious treasure is so lightly valued and so little sought by many who profess the faith!” Testimonies, vol. 5, 169.
In the Epistle to the Colossian Christians, Paul counsels: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:12-15, 17.
I John 4: 7-11: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Let each ask himself: Do I possess the grace of love?
Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-822-3900.